Cabernet Day Reflections – Wine and Music in Concert

2003 Halter Ranch Cab opened in prelude to Cabernet Day


In preparation for Cabernet Day 2012, a friend and I drove via the coast route from Paso Robles to Santa Cruz. Securely stowed in our air conditioned vehicle were a few bottles each of Halter Ranch 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. These two special wines represent the entirety of our first foray into the variety at Halter Ranch.  

Once in Santa Cruz I sat down with Baker Steve of The Buttery fame and Jeff (the aforementioned friend) to eat some gourmet pizza and greens while tasting the 03 Cabernets side by side. Integral to the experience were the instrumental and vocal stylings of one Chan Marshall (also known as Cat Power).  ‘Sun‘, Chan’s new album, releases on Tuesday, September 4 and Steve is an informal biographer and major fan of her work.  All three of us are enamored with Cat Power and of fermented grape juice, so the pairing was a fairly natural one.  Pre-released tunes from the Sun in concert with the wine led to additional musical discussion revolving around David Bowie (specifically ‘Heroes’ to which a few tracks off of Sun bear subtle resemblance), Giovanni Ribisi, and the general state of the world.


Jeff checks the color


Revelations in tasting the Cabernet Sauvignon(s) were quite interesting and in retrospect I cannot recommend enough the combination of wine, soft music, and food toward the stimulation of conversation.  More on that thought in a moment, in the meantime here are some notes:

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon – Distinct from its Reserve counterpart, this wine received only 40% new oak barrels and the fruit came from blocks located toward the western end of our vineyard. Surprisingly bright and vibrant given the 7 years under its belt. Tannins are quite apparent and suggest this wine may have a few more years of aging potential. As it opens up the initial bright, red character gives way to darker, more brooding fruits and spice.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Slightly more austere than its companion, the 03 Reserve came from hillside blocks along the eastern edge of our vineyard. It received 100% new oak for 18 months and this is apparent in the texture. The oak influence has integrated quite nicely and the mellow tannins suggest a hearty portion of free run juice. Flavors here tend toward the darker cassis end of the Cabernet spectrum and though the nose may be a bit shy initially, once the bottle was poured down to the shoulder it opened right up and began offering a wealth of hearty delight.

Though these wines are not currently available on our website, we are planning a special library offering soon, so keep an eye here and on our emails if you’ve joined our mailing list (in the bottom left corner of the front page) for updates.

In addition to our own Cabernet Day experience, we took the opportunity to visit Ridge Monte Bello for their tasting event.  Christopher Watkins and the Ridge crew (Amy, Kirsten, Joe) very generously allowed guests to partake in their tasting of ’85, ’89, ’95, and ’05 Monte Bello along with ’03 Estate Cab.  In appropriate synergy with the above comments on wine and music, Chris chose to pair the wine and nibbles with a mix of Duke Ellington stylings given the complexity of Ellington’s compositions and the similar potential for complexity in Cabernet Sauvignon.  We greedily partook while participating in the worldwide twitter event.  Expect more commentary on the character of their wines and ours in an upcoming post about ageability.

Tonight we will be hosting the annual Bridge Dinner out at the ranch.  Check back Tuesday for photos and comments!


Steve offers a toast to Cabernet Sauvignon and music


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